Yoga as a Stress Reliever for Children

Giving Children Relief from Holiday Stress as published in the Hingham Journal

A few weeks ago I read Peaceful Piggy Meditation by Kerry Lee MacLean to our Pre-K and Kindergarten students here at the South Shore Conservatory, because during this busy time of year I believe it is good for children to learn strategies to help deal with the November and December chaos.

As I read “Sometimes the world can be such a busy, noisy place.   Sometimes it feels like you always have to hurry, hurry, hurry…,” I wanted them to know that I understood that, along with excitement of the holidays, they may also feel stress or anxiety, and I wanted to give them simple coping strategies.

We are given one body to live in our lives.  It is important to nurture, care, and connect with this body. Yoga is one way to listen to our body, instead of someone else telling us what is best. Sitting quietly and finding a peaceful place inside helps children and adults center themselves and feel comfortable in their own skin.  It also empowers the children to make their own decision for self-care instead of always having adults tell them what to do.

Here are a few yoga techniques for children and adults to practice on their own, so they can unplug from our fast-paced society and feel some calm instead.

  1. Take Five – This is a yoga breathing technique.  Breathe in for five and then breathe out for five while counting on your fingers.
  2. Play music with no words and color with crayons.  This is a form of meditation.
  3. Take a walk in nature while appreciating the quiet and beauty.
  4. Blow on a pinwheel.
  5. Sit quietly and listen for sounds in the room.
  6. Name two things that you like about yourself or makes you happy inside.   For example, I am loving and I am helpful.

Of course, if they know how, the children or adults could always do a couple of yoga poses such as dog, cat, cow, or snake.

Believing that yoga is a form of art that can help children with self-expression, kinesthetic learning, and self-esteem, the Conservatory offers yoga to their preschool, pre-k, and kindergarten students as part of their arts-integrated curriculum.  Howard Gardner, a well-respected psychologist, developed a theory that there are multiple types of intelligences from which we learn.  Among them are physical intelligence, which is the ability to use your body in various situations and understand where the body is in space – proprioception, and Introspective Intelligence which is the ability to understand your inner thoughts.  Both of these intelligences are addressed through the practice of yoga.

I feel it’s very appropriate that our next session of Yoga for Kids, for ages 3-6, and Yoga for Young Performers, for ages 12 and over, starts this week, just as the holiday season is getting underway.  I’ll be teaching my students all about the mind-body connection, and techniques for better breathing and focus to help them make it through the holiday season less stressed.  For more information about the South Shore Conservatory’s movement programs, please visit http://www.sscmusic.org/dance_movement.html#yoga.

Registered Children’s Yoga Instructor Meg Durkin.   Meg Durkin has been studying and practicing yoga since 2007. She has taught yoga at the Conservatory since 2009.

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